Grow, Gift, Repair

Municipal difficulty expected when going after license

Steve Hoffman, chairman of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, said the new agency is continuing to build out its staff and the technology necessary to process and track applications, and test marijuana products.

Asked whether retail shops will open mid-summer, Hoffman said, “It’s still our intent.”

He added: “As I said, we need to make sure our staff is in place, we need to make sure we have our technology in place, but our intent is to have a ‘go’ on July 1. And we are hitting all of the deadlines that we have in the legislation. So I’m feeling good about that.”

While the commission handles applications at the state level, it will be up to Massachusetts cities and towns to handle zoning and community host agreements.

Hoffman said the commission is unable to dictate the pace of municipal officials’ decision-making. “We don’t control the decision-making process for cities and towns,” the chairman said.

That could cause a “potential” slowdown in the opening of retail shops, according to Hoffman. “It’s certainly possible, I’m hoping it’s not the case.”

The growing and gifting of marijuana became legal under Massachusetts law in December 2016, but Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers tinkered with the timeline for retail pot shops.

He also declined to guess at how many retail pot shops would be opening. “I have no idea how many applications we’re going to get,” he said.

The roll-out of medical marijuana dispensaries happened slowly due to issues at the local level, according to Will Luzier, a legalized marijuana advocate.